This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
Thursday's NHL slate consists of the one-game showdown contest between the Avalanche and Golden Knights at 9:00 p.m. EDT. Below, you'll find suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.
Game 5 was a microcosm of the series as a whole, with Colorado grabbing a 2-0 lead, only to see Vegas come back with three unanswered goals to secure a third consecutive win for the Golden Knights. Vegas will have a chance to close things out on home ice in Game 6, and the Golden Knights are slightly favored to do so against the desperate Avalanche.
Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK vs. COL ($10,600): Were it not for Vegas' comeback in the third period and overtime Tuesday, the story of Game 5 would have been Fleury's misplay of a harmless-looking Brandon Saad shot in the final second of the first period, which gave Colorado the lead and momentum. Luckily for Fleury, his teammates bailed him out and continued to provide the firm defensive structure that's limited Colorado to five goals over the last three games. Fleury's a strong choice for your Captain spot if you expect Vegas to close out the series Thursday.
Philipp Grubauer, COL at VGK ($9,400): Since his Game 2 heroics, Grubauer has looked average at best, allowing 11 pucks to go by while posting a save percentage of .880 or worse twice in his last three games. The Avalanche will need him to find his game to have a chance of coming back from this 3-2 series deficit, and the German netminder is certainly capable of doing so considering he's a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.
Jonathan Marchessault, VGK vs. COL ($7,800): Marchessault has heated up just when his team needed him most, potting five goals over the past three games and producing at least one point in every game this series. There's no reason to expect the red-hot winger to slow down now.
Valeri Nichushkin, COL at VGK ($3,600): Nichushkin delivered an inspired effort in Game 5, even though he failed to mark the scoresheet. He led the Avalanche with five shots on goal while adding five hits and two blocks over 19:47 of ice time — second-most among Colorado's forwards. Coach Jared Bednar likes what he's seeing from the big-bodied Russian, which should lead to more opportunities for Nichushkin with the season on the line Thursday.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Avalanche at Golden Knights
The affordable Saad was moved up to the top line in Game 5 thanks to his recent goal binge, and the veteran winger continued his productive ways by opening the scoring with his seventh goal in the last eight games. His two linemates were easily Colorado's two leading scorers in the regular season, and MacKinnon still has an 8-5-13 line in nine games this postseason, even after being held off the scoresheet for the past three. Rantanen has been Colorado's most productive forward besides Saad in this series, with a 3-2-5 line.
Golden Knights vs. Avalanche
After Colorado dominated the series opener, the Golden Knights' top players have been better than the Avalanche's, which is the primary reason why Vegas is a game away from advancing. Pacioretty's still yet to be held off the scoresheet this postseason, with a point in all six games played. Stone extended his point streak to three games by potting the game-winning goal in the first minute of overtime Tuesday, while Stephenson's been quiet offensively in this series but still leads the Golden Knights with a plus-7 rating this postseason.
Alex Pietrangelo, VGK vs. COL ($8,200): Pietrangelo was the best player on the ice in Game 5, totaling game highs in shots (seven) and blocked shots (four) to go with an assist over a team-high 23:51 of ice time. The star blueliner figures to once again play a prominent all-situations role in this pivotal Game 6 as the Golden Knights look to punch their tickets to the next round.
Devon Toews, COL at VGK ($6,200): Toews has played at least 23:22 in every game this series, yet the top-pairing blueliner can still be had for a very reasonable price. He's dished out three helpers already in this series, giving Toews a 9-27-36 line over 62 games between the regular season and playoffs as a member of the Avalanche.